Haas: Beating Red Bull the right ambition to have
Haas insists that new title sponsor Rich Energy is right to target beating Formula 1 rival Red Bull on and off the track.
At the unveiling of the team's new Rich Energy livery in London on Thursday, its CEO William Storey raised some eyebrows when he suggested the aim was to "challenge" Red Bull on circuits and in the business world.
But rather than dismiss the thought of taking on one of F1's top teams as a pipe dream, Haas team boss Gunther Steiner thought it was correct to have lofty ambitions.
"I think you have to try hard," said Steiner, when asked by Motorsport.com about the Red Bull aim. "If you have no target, you never achieve anything.
"Off track I don't know, William can speak better about that than me, because I am not an expert in energy drinks. But sure it is an ambition.
"They [Red Bull] are good in racing. But you never know. Last year I think we had the fourth fastest car, and we finished fifth, I know about that. So the next one up was Red Bull. We can try.
"If we achieve it or not I don't know, but if you don't try then for sure you don't achieve it. Why would you do it if you don't put your target high?"
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Haas driver Kevin Magnussen agreed with his boss that being ambitious was nothing to be ashamed of.
"I think it's great to have big ambition," he said. "You hear William say he wants to take on Red Bull. He started a company that will be in direct competition outside of Formula 1 so you need to have this kind of ambition to succeed. There's nothing wrong with that at all."
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team, Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 and Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / LAT Images
But Magnussen thinks it premature to believe that Haas would have a realistic chance of overhauling Red Bull immediately.
"I doubt it'll be this year, but no one knows what the future holds. There are regulation changes and maybe budget caps, so who knows what can happen? You can't say what's possible at the moment but if you don't believe in it, for sure it won't happen."
Steiner said that Red Bull's switch to Honda had at least opened up some uncertainty about its potential in 2019, but he was not taking anything for granted.
"It is difficult to say because Honda will get better," he said. "They got better every year and they will get better again. And for sure Red Bull will help them to get better in my opinion.
"As you know they are a good team, they are always there or thereabouts, so if they can steer in the right direction then that will help.
"For sure Honda had a little bit of reliability issues last year, so let's see what is coming this year. I cannot look into the future to say how good they are or how bad they are.
"I don't push anybody back, but if we are better I am happy. It can go both ways. There is an opportunity. Let's wait until after the tests to see where everybody is and how good we are."
Although Rich Energy has faced sceptics since it first announced the Haas title sponsorship deal, Storey is clear that his company can be a game-changer in taking on Red Bull.
"I think we have already beaten them: we have a better-looking car. That is just a bit biased there!," he said. "We are expanding very quickly, we are taking a huge amount of business from them.
"Some of the biggest drinks distributors in Europe are delisting Red Bull now, and I think our results will start to speak for themselves. F1 is a wonderful platform for us.
"We are with the best run team in my opinion and, equally importantly, lovely people. We are delighted to work with Haas and want to do it on a very long term basis."
Asked if his goal was to put the wind-up on Red Bull, Storey said: "No, not at all. I think Red Bull is a brilliantly run business.
"Dietrich Mateschitz is a very clever guy. He has created a category in 1987, and we just feel that we have a better product and a better brand.
"We feel that there is a little bit of apathy and hubris in the market place and we think that we have a real opportunity to beat them – off the track."
Haas F1 Team VF-18 with 2019 new livery
Photo by: Joe Portlock / LAT Images
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